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5 Free Tools to Measure Online Brand Awareness



This post comes from our SEO Channel Sponsor SEOmoz.

The concept of brand awareness has changed a lot in the past 10 years. Who knows your brand, what do they think, are they loyal and who are they? For many marketers, this is valuable stuff. But, before the days of the direct attribution provided by online marketing, companies had to rely on brand awareness studies to help understand the efficacy of their marketing efforts.

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Many large companies use expensive brand tracking studies to understand the impact of their marketing efforts toward building awareness and generating customers. Panels and surveys can be conducted for tens of thousands of dollars and provide detailed data on metrics like aided and unaided awareness, sentiment analysis, loyalty, and demographic data for who you’re reaching, and who you’re not. Many large businesses still regularly conduct this research—someone must care which razor brand I prefer (Gillette, if you care to know).

But, who wants to spend thousands of dollars when you can get great data for free? Ok, these free sources can’t compare with an exhaustive brand study, but they’re almost as good, and for the price, they can’t be beat. Most of these metrics measure the effectiveness of all of your efforts of driving awareness and demand online.

And most importantly these free tools provide raw values so you can record and measure performance over time. With several months’ worth of data, you can learn a great deal about your brand’s current online awareness, buzz and traffic potential.

(Since I work with SEOmoz I’ll be using our brand as an example. Because we’re committed to transparency, this is our actual data!)

1. Topsy – how many social mentions did my brand receive?

Topsy, the excellent social search engine, provides excellent metrics for how many times a particular word or phrase is mentioned on the social web or in tweets. I’d suggest searching for your brand while excluding retweets and via mentions (by adding -rt -via to the search query):

The thing that makes Topsy invaluable to a marketer is that it provides raw counts for both social web mentions, and Twitter mentions:

Web results – how many social mentions did my brand receive?

Tweet results – how many Twitter mentions did my brand receive?

These raw counts (I’d recommend last 7 days and last 30 days, collected weekly and monthly) are excellent indicators of the online buzz your brand receives. If you do indeed collect these counts regularly, you’ll be able to begin drawing simple correlations with which your marketing activities are driving the most buzz.

2. Google Analytics – how much ‘brand’ traffic does my site generate?

Besides being free, Google Analytics has several data points help determine how much your brand is driving traffic to your website.

Branded Search Visits – how many people are searching for my brand and visiting my site?

In Google Analytics: Traffic Sources > Keywords > Keywords containing “yourbrandname”

The number of visits your site receives from branded keywords can help you know how many people searched for your brand and clicked to your website (you own the #1 space for your brand name right?). Use the Keywords report (found under Traffic Sources) and restrict the keywords to those containing your keyword (using the Filter Keyword box at the bottom of the page):

Direct Traffic – How many people are aware of my brand and visiting my site?

In Google Analytics: Traffic Sources > Direct Traffic

A simple concept, but the people who come directly to your website, either through typing in your domain name or from a bookmark are a useful indicator of how many people are aware of your brand and choosing to visit your website.

New Visitors – How many new visitors is my site receiving (i.e. who is likely having their first meaningful engagement with my brand)?

In Google Analytics: Visitors > New vs. Returning

This metric tells you how many people are were new visitors to your site, and it’s a safe assumption that many of them are having their first meaningful engagement with your brand as a result of visiting your website—and this includes if they’ve come to your website through a paid marketing channel where they saw a display media banner and PPC text ad. Those paid placements may drop your name but they’re no substitute for the experience of your website.

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3. Facebook Insights – how many people is my brand reaching on Facebook?

Facebook Insights is a treasure trove of valuable data for marketers. It’s free, but it requires a Facebook Page for your brand. I’m only covering two of the metrics available in Facebook Insights, but it’s worth your time to become familiar with all of the data; be sure to check out the valuable demographic data, and consider setting up Insights for Your Domain.

Interactions: Post Views – how many people are seeing the content I share on Facebook?

In Facebook Insights: Page Insights > Interactions > Post Views

Interactions: Post Feedback – how many people are engaging with the content I share on Facebook?

These two metrics help you understand how many people are seeing your Facebook posts, and you’ll quickly discover it is a number far greater than the people who “Like” your brand on Facebook.

4. Twitter – how many people are following my brand?

This suggestion is so obvious and basic you might be typing “facepalm” into the comment box, but this is also a metric I’ve seen plenty of companies not tracking week over week. Knowing your current Twitter follower count is one thing, but how quickly is your account growing? You’ll only know this if you capture your Twitter follower count each and every week.

Collect the Followers count on the same day each week, and you’ll be able to easily calculate week over week growth. You can even create beautiful line charts in your favorite spreadsheet program.

5. LinkedIn – how many people are interested in working with my company?

LinkedIn has valuable metrics accessible to your Company Page admins. Because LinkedIn is a business networking tool, you’ll be able to see how many people are investigating your company on the business network, likely because they a salesperson, interested in working for you, or god forbid, trying to recruit away your team! Being the interest of salespeople, potential employees, and recruiters can be a good thing—it means people want to work with your company.

To view the metrics, visits your companies page on LinkedIn (usually http://www.linkedin.com/company/yourcompany) and click Analytics.

Page Views – how many page views is my company page receiving on LinkedIn?

Companies > Your Company > Analytics

Unique Visitors – how many people are viewing my company page on LinkedIn?
Companies > Your Company > Analytics

LinkedIn Analytics also provide data on who has chosen to follow your company:

Unfortunately, the LinkedIn data is only provided monthly, making weekly comparisons difficult, but it’s interesting data nonetheless.

Create an online brand metrics worksheet

For all of these free data sources to be useful you really need to be measure and collect them weekly. To this end, I’d suggest creating a simple spreadsheet where you can enter the metrics on the same day each week (I prefer Monday as it’s how Facebook reports their weeks).

This might look something like this:

What metrics do you like to measure for your brand?

I’ve shared a few my favorite sources of online brand awareness data, but there are plenty more. Which are your favorites? Let me know comments or via Twitter @jamies. Happy brand measurement!

About the Author:

Jamie Steven
VP Marketing, SEOmoz
Twitter: @jamies

As the Vice President of Marketing at the Seattle SEO software company, SEOmoz, Jamie Steven brings 15 years of experience in marketing at startups and enterprises such as Rhapsody, BestBuy.com, Speakeasy and Microsoft. He is a frequent speaker at marketing conferences such as PubCon, SMX, MarketingSherpa, MozCon and DreamForce. Starting in Winter 2011, he’ll be an instructor at the University of Washington’s Advanced Interactive Marketing program. Jamie lives in Seattle, WA and holds an MBA from the University of Washington.

  • http://twitter.com/twschurik Alex

    Very nice article, thanks.

  • http://www.orbitalalliance.com Simon Yohe

    Google Webmasters is also a great tool to use! Thanks for the article.

  • http://www.searchbug.com Noah Wieder

    Very handy, I’ve added to my delicious bookmarks. thanks

  • http://comparativa.com comparativa.com

    Webmastertools is maybe one of the best to see how good is your brand.

  • http://genuineseo.net Eddie Gear

    Hi there, I am an SEO Expert. I’ve been working on some web analytic recently and this helps me measure social media brand awareness. Thanks.

  • http://HillierRealEstate.com Billie Hillier

    I use SEOmoz pro tools and my SEO work is now so much more measurable than it was before. AND, my traffic shows it.

    I need to look at my other traffic such as LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. – great article!

  • http://LocalOnlineMarketingBC.ca don Tietz

    Thanks Jamie for the great information. Don

  • http://www.tuvel.com Kari Rippetoe

    I use SocialMention to measure social brand awareness and get a rough (although not entirely accurate) sense of sentiment. It will also tell you the top keywords being used in conjunction with your brand and top users mentioning it (which is extremely useful when identifying your top brand evangelists).